England of course does not ever reach the sort of temperatures we see in other lands. But we are in the middle of a mini-heatwave, especially here in the South East of England. Apparently Friday is set to be the warmest day of the week, with temperatures reaching 33 or 34 degrees Celsius.
I am going to try to leave home earlier to travel when it is cooler. I have not been enjoying being crammed on a hot train with lots of other passengers this week.
So I was innocently and unsuspectingly walking home when I was pranked by a sprinkler. Yes that is right…I had an unplanned cold shower. But on a sizzling hot day like today, it really was not too much of a bad thing.
I think summer is grinding to a halt here in England. I had a shock last week when I left work just after 7pm and it was dark! The reality of summer passing away struck me hard.
I find autumn and winter hard – it’s the dark. I just find that all I want to do is hibernate. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the thought of the gloomy months ahead and seeing people wasting money on all sorts of useless things. The holiday season always brings lots of work as people do foolish things or give in to gloomy thoughts.
What will help me keep my spirits up when summer is fading? Jack is always going to be fun! He has energy no matter what the season. Did I tell you we have an engagement party planned at long last? Over a year since we became engaged! Really it is just a chance for our families to be together. There will be food, games and dancing. It will help make memories – which will be lovely.
I just wish I could enjoy the no coat temperatures and the long hours of daylight for longer. I am a summer girl – through and through.
I have a holiday ahead of me. It is a staycation – as in it will be within the UK (why go through the stress of an overseas holiday this year?) I will be visiting my family. I cannot wait!!!
There are some things I want to do…and I have postponed them, feeling I simply did not have the time, at least I did not have the time to enjoy them. Looking at wedding dresses for a start.
I also am itching to write. I have two stories I am desperate to write. One is of a girl who comes to London from a European country – full of dreams. She arrives in London before the Europe referendum back in 2016, before the 2020 Pandemic. So a lot happens. Here story is one of dreams, challenges, hope, disappointment, betrayal, persecution, love, heartbreak, courage, endurance and of course she is going to have a happy ending. Why would I write a book without a happy ending? It is based on the real life experiences of so many of my own dear friends. I have been writing bits and pieces in my spare time, but I need to weave it all together.
I have another story in my mind – a story about forgiveness. It is pure fiction, but it is inspired by the forgiveness that took place between Jack and myself. I don’t feel I can write our own story yet, even though Jack thinks it would be a great idea. But I can use our experience for inspiration, and draw on the memory of the feelings I experienced when we were estranged, and how delicate trust was when we were trying to make peace and restore the damage. It is currently a complex storyline, and I think I needed to peel away some of the detailed layers.
I have a feeling that my summer holiday will be so packed with family members and friends, it is unlikely I will have time to work on my writing. I guess I am longing for lazy hazy days of summer to roll on and on and on, and not to have any scheduled or deadlines to inhibit me!
England has had a beautiful lull of weather for the past couple of weeks. It is just glorious. I was laying down staring up at the blue sky at the weekend, enjoying the feel of the sunshine my skin. It is such a joy after the long cold grey winter (when we had to stay at home) and the very wet spring we had.
I love Jack. I love him and he has made me so happy. But I miss Goldfinch. It is almost two years since I saw him. I never thought that would be possible. How is it possible to be separated from someone you love to the core for two years?
I would go out of my mind if it was not for being able to email him. Love feels like sunshine. It radiates, it warms, it revives. I love summer so much. I love that all the tension melts away from my body. I love the colours and the scents…I love not having to wear a coat. It is a way of life I adore.
This was I post I wrote back in 2018…but it feels like summer again here in the UK, so I thought it was time to re-publish.
Summer started at the end of April here in London. We had something miraculous: a sensational bank holiday weekend, during which we all rushed out in shorts and flip-flops and came back sun-burnt. I think the British are renowned for talking about the weather. It is hard to not pass a comment on the changes in weather. It doesn’t seem long ago since we had the most snow we have seen in about eight years. Apparently there are scientific, geological, meteorological reasons why the weather in Britain swings one way to the next some times even within a 24 hour period. I am one of those shrewd types that took a brolly in my bag even on those blistering hot days we have recently enjoyed. We like having a bit of a chitchat about the weather…it is an equalizer. Rich or poor we are all effected by it.
We don’t even have the extremes of weather many other lands seem to face. We are too small and seem to be in a location that keeps our weather reasonably mild on the whole. We never feel we receive quite as much sunshine as we would like. But still…we should not complain. We should count our blessings – should we not!
Well, my tastes change entirely from winter to summer. I like my warm comforting treats throughout the winter. A steaming bowl of soup, a traditional favourite (vegetarian version in my case) cottage pie, hot pot, stew and dumplings, roast dinners, hot chocolate and yummy sticky gooey naughty puddings…(bad, bad, bad – we must keep reminding me!!!)
But now it is summer, I couldn’t touch any of that. With the increase of temperature, the winter duvet goes to the dry cleaners and then into storage and the summer duvet appears, I unpack my vacuum packed summer clothes and put them into my wardrobe and the winter woollies are packed away.
My taste-buds are transformed entirely. Salad, lots and lots of salad, with the occasional new potato salad creeping onto my plate. Fruit…I like to mix red fruits together…strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries….and then I don’t seem to tire of lemon and lime, and also tropical fruits, mango, pineapples, kiwi. I don’t enjoy them anywhere near as much during the winter months. But now, I crave them. I drink litres of water each day. My occasional treat has changed from hot chocolate (last winter I went through a whole tub of white hot chocolate flakes) to fruit cordials or pressé. This year I have a favourite. I may have given it away in the title of this post. If in doubt, please see the photo below.
So refreshing. I have it with chilled water a lot. Or this evening, I diluted it with zero sugar lemonade. My treat for these summery days when I have had an excess of water already.
I finished one bottle last night so I have just been to the supermarket on the way home to buy some more. I had my tablet with me… (Do you know I have never bought a phone or a tablet in my life? Every phone I have had was someone else’s hand-me-down and the tablet I have I won. I filled out some test-your-knowledge cards relating to training booklets I had to complete at work in order to obtain some certificates for our staff training folder. I waited and waited for certificates and none came. I sent an e-mail to the course providers asking them about certificates and then I received an e-mail to say I had won the monthly prize drawer and they would send me a tablet. Bizarre. It took three more months for those certificates to arrive.) …anyway, I used my tablet to take some photos of the cordials I buy for a summer treat.
When I came upon the shelves all the bottles were out of order, so I spent a few minutes straightening them to be able to take a pretty picture for your benefit. They must have wondered what I was doing. I did go through a bottle of ginger cordial during the winter actually. I usually have elderflower cordial every summer. The lime and lemongrass is a new choice for me and I am very happy. I think I may try the elderflower and rose soon though.
Now on the subject of treats. These are treats for me. They are a bit pricey compared to some of the other cordials on the supermarket shelves. But please don’t judge my indulgence until you know a little more about me. I have never owned a house, though I have always had somewhere to live. I have never owned a car, though I am a driver and have driven various vehicles many thousands of miles for work purposes. Most of my clothes have been hand-me-downs or I have bought them from charity shops. I do buy new shoes and new underwear though. I have never spent money on buying a phone, though I do pay for my own credit – £10 per month means I have hundreds of free text messages. The tablet, I mentioned I won. I am on my fifth hand-me-down laptop in seven years. Before then I didn’t have one.
Essentially, my life is extraordinarily simple. My belongings would fit into a suitcase. I am only mentioning it because I feel a twinge of guilt buying cordial that is twice the price of some of the other cordials on the shelf. But it is my treat. I am on the whole very prudent with my pennies and I hope I am not too heavily under the influence of the commercial system…but hey, we all have to drink and eat and we all need a few pennies to buy the things we need. I am disgusted by the economic extremes this world allows for. Of course it will fail. Any economic system that allows for shocking monopolies and shocking poverty is utterly doomed.
I grew up thinking we were poor, but then I travelled. I saw the world through new eyes. I had no idea that so many millions had no access to the things we consider as basic, an electric shower, a flushing toilet, a refrigerator. Ever since I had the opportunity to do some travelling, I have tried not to be sucked into the treadmill of consumerism. I have remembered the beautiful men and women I met who lived on one dollar a day and knew more about life than many with far more possessions than they have.
That is one good reason why every teenager should travel to a country with a very different economic make-up to the one they grew up in…(I mean a country where there is not such an abundance) it is a huge education in reality. An education in what really matters. An education in appreciation.
I wish that everyone was able to have equal enjoyment of this beautiful planet. Equal responsibility to look after it and preserve it, but also equal enjoyment of it’s richness. When I am enjoying some pleasure – and there are such an abundance of delicious food and drinks available, I remember not all have these pleasures. I can’t wait for the day when this earth is how it should be and the human family – every single one – are happy and healthy and have everything they need and some extra treats too!
Imperfect I am indeed, please don’t judge me too harshly in my choice of a treat. I truly tell you lime and lemongrass cordial will be my indulgence this summer.
Well…I have been managing to publish at least one post a day for a long time. But this year, a lot of those posts were ones I already had in my drafts folder. I am not finding time to do more new writing. So…you will see a few posts that I wrote and published in 2018 that I am re-publishing (including the infamous STORM IN A TEACUP SERIES!)
I do have a blessed life here. Despite being the other side of a trial that has turned my life upside down…I find myself here in this beautiful part of London, in a beautiful little abode, with interesting and satisfying work, and lots of lovely people in my life, not the least of whom is my beloved Goldfinch. I rise early and have a leisurely breakfast and my coffee. Then I shower and dress and then I climb three steps and I start work. Three steps!!! What a terrible commute to work – and they are all uphill!!!
This part of London is completely new to me. I have been exploring whenever I have free time. Spring and summer are giving me more daylight hours to go venturing out to discover. Last week I found a pretty park. I went there tonight with the book I wanted to finish and my fleecy picnic rug. It is about a 40-45 minute walk from the house. It is not the best park in London. But with beautiful trees and grass you can’t really go wrong. Lots of families, joggers, cyclists, people chatting on benches, drinking coffee or eating ice-cream at one of the little cafes.
I arrived at about 5.30pm this evening. I had to finish the book I borrowed from the local library…I read it in that beautiful park, the sun warming my back and the gentle breeze caressing my hair. I let tears roll down my cheeks as I read slowly every emotion packed sentence. What a story.
Then once I had finished it, I sat up and did a little “people-watching”. When I was bored I lay down on my back and looked up at the blue sky, the branches heavy with verdant green towering over me.
It’s nice to be snugly warm and yet to be able to detect that lovely faint breeze. I realized the sun was sinking and was now behind a very impressive cedar tree. I felt tears in my eyes again. There was a huge cedar tree outside the building I went into every morning at 6.45am for breakfast….and there was a huge cedar in the private park in front of the apartment I lived in with two flatmates for my first two years there. Before I moved into the flat where the trouble started. The trouble that led to a life-changing event.
My sister was in Lebanon for three months at the start of last year. She told me all about the cedars there and showed me lots of pictures. Then two of my best friends went over there for two months and came back just as enthusiastic as my sister about the scenery and the food.
I want to go to Lebanon.
There are a hundred places I would like to visit…ideally to have several weeks in each location, maybe longer. There are a thousand things I would like to do.
But this word BALANCE and another word PATIENCE and what else? Oh yes, SELF-CONTROL. There is no way all these places would exist if I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to see them all and enjoy them all at some point! I am sure. It would be too cruel. This earth is there to explore and discover. I am sure one day…we will set out on a voyage together and spend one or two thousand years I would like to be with Goldfinch, discovering new places, new foods, new scenery, new cultures and music and experiences. I would like to do a lot of exploring with him and then at the end of each day find somewhere we could sit back and I could hold his hand and rest my head on his shoulder and we can talk about everything we saw that day.
I have a lovely balanced life here…which is what I have needed, starting over again. I have needed to do this gently. Right now, I have the ideal situation for building up my stamina (especially with work spread over five storeys of the building – I am getting plenty of chance to run up and down stairs), pushing my body a little bit more each day, always with the knowledge I will be able to rest up after work…getting back into routine. Growing stronger every day. I am enjoying my work very much…and I am loving my rest/relaxation time very much. I can see I will be spending more late afternoons in the pretty park I found.
There was a point when I could not have imagined I would be able to come to a park on my own and feel so peaceful, so full of blissful content and feel safe. So many memories would be triggered of that night. That summer evening when I went to a park on my own and sat on a bench and allowed hot spicy tears roll down my cheeks. So many memories of the security guard who found me the following morning and called an ambulance. So many memories of everything that happened that night.
But look at how far I have come. I can go to the park on my own and feel happiness down to my toes. I can hold my head up knowing I have not just survived, I have thrived…with the support of my family and friends. I even have a Goldfinch who makes me feel as if I could fly.
Despite the cruel events which shattered my world…I am in one piece…I am in a safe place and I have a balanced healthy and happy life. I enjoy my work, I enjoy my rest/relaxation time. I enjoy Parklife.
We interrupt this winter by declaring we would like summer to return, as soon as possible – PLEASE!
I want to be just as in love with Jack as I am now…next summer! I love summer. It’s very nice having cozy nights in and walks in autumnal woods with Jack.
But I actually want to be out there in the sun with him. Everyone will know by then. I want to be having picnics with him and hanging out with friends who invite us over for barbeques. I want to try boating with him and walking along beaches with him. I want to be up in the Lake District or North Wales hiking with him. I want to be eating ice-creams with him (dairy-free for me) and going swimming in Hampstead Lido with him.
Summer loving is so much more my thing than all the snuggling up on the sofa. Well…snuggling is always going to be nice. But I am such an outdoorsy person. I want to be outside living with Jack. By summer 2020, everyone will know, and I am going to enjoy it.